Returning Newcastle Knights duo Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden have found a silver lining to their ASADA bans, which ended in the early hours of last Saturday morning.
The experienced duo, who were two of the 12 past and present players suspended by ASADA for 3 months – what was left of their 12 month backdated deals – last August, were alleged to have taken part in Cronulla's illegal supplements program during their time at the Sharks in 2011.
Forced to miss the final three games of the NRL season and forfeit their chances at a Four Nations berth, Smith and Snowden were able to see the positives in a dark moment of their careers.
Smith especially had no troubles labelling his own ban as a "blessing in disguise" with the chance to rest his ailing body away up in Newcastle away from the more intense media scrutiny of Sydney.
"I had a bit of a sore knee throughout the season and just having a break and staying off my legs was probably a blessing," Smith said.
"Nobody was comfortable with what happened but I was quite happy with the chance to freshen up and spend time at home with the family.
"It wasn't as bad for us up here as it was down there for the boys at Cronulla. We're out of the limelight here... It was the right [decision] in the long run."
While a stigma could perhaps remain around the careers of those involved, Smith added he didn't really care about the negative thoughts of the naysayers or opposition fans.
"It was a group decision we made and we have to stick by that. We have to move on now and we have a good season ahead of us," Smith said.
"It is good to be back especially around the boys [though]. It is nice to be back in the environment and get a bit of routine back in my life."
With a huge season ahead of him, Snowden didn't believe there would be any additional scrutiny following their time served away from the NRL.
Much like Smith, Snowden was happy to be gifted a few extra weeks of enforced off-season.
Claiming his body was feeling great after his extended stint on the sidelines, Newcastle's premier prop Snowden was also excited for the season ahead.
"I think the extra time off has done the body a world of good. I'm in a lot better shape than I usually am and my injuries are a lot better. I'm just looking forward to a good off-season and getting ready for next year," Snowden said.
"I did a bit of travelling with the family and got out of Australia for a while but apart from that I've just been keeping my head low and resting the body.
"It would've been a bit harder for [the Cronulla boys] so maybe it was a bit luckier for us that we were in Newcastle [to serve the bans]."